For Fish & Richardson’s intellectual property lawyers, keeping busy means keeping the advantage.

The firm retained its long-held title in 2012 for filing more patent litigation than any firm in the country — 30 percent more than its closest competitor, said litigation practice leader Ann Cathcart Chaplin.

The volume allows Fish & Richardson more opportunities to pinpoint cases that can change or help develop the laws that, in turn, benefit clients, Chaplin said. In 2012, that approach helped Fish & Richardson attorneys play a leading role in a number of precedent-­setting intellectual property cases.

"We are continually watching for these opportunities," Chaplin said.

In April 2102, Fish & Richardson partners Juanita Brooks in the San Diego office and Jonathan Singer in the Minneapolis office won a pharmaceutical industry decision that clarified burdens of proof in cases in which a defendant seeks to invalidate a patent. The issue frequently arises during Hatch-Waxman Act pharmaceutical litigation, Chaplin said.

In that case, Fish & Richardson represented Anesta LLC, Cephalon Inc. and Eurand Pharmaceuticals Inc. and convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in April 2012 to restore the clients’ patent claims relating to Amrix, Cephalon’s cyclobenzaprine product for skeletal muscle pain. The drug brings in about $140 million per year in sales.

In another case expected to have far-reaching consequences, Fish partners Frank Porcelli in Boston and John Dragseth in Minneapolis, representing W.L. Gore & Associates Inc., convinced the Federal Circuit during en banc arguments to clarify a two-prong test for establishing willful infringement.

The panel in June 2012 ruled that one of the prongs should be resolved by the trial judge and therefore were subject to de novo review on appeal.

The decision appears likely to shape a large number of patent cases and could substantially benefit defendants accused of willful infringement, Chaplin said.

That litigation and the others have helped Fish & Richardson accumulate brief banks, expert-witness rosters and filing templates. It means better efficiency for clients, Chaplin said.

"We’ve worked to harness that knowledge that is within our organization and make it available to all of our lawyers," she said. "When you have that many cases over time, you’ve seen it all, you’ve done it all. You’ve seen every litigation strategy there is."